Lesson # 4 - The Snowball Block
The snowball is a great learning block. Once you have conquered the
snowball, you will have mastered the technique of diagonally sewing small
squares on corners. This is a challenge. You must draw a diagonal line perfectly straight on the small squall square from corner to corner.
After you sew on it, when you flip the square up, it MUST align perfectly with
the square under it.
If the alignment is perfect, you can then trim off the square underneath (leaving
1/4 inch) to eliminate bulk in the quilt top. There are actually two
schools of thought on this. Some people do not believe in trimming the
square underneath. They figure you will never be able to sew the small
square on accurately, and you may as well leave the piece underneath so that you
can use it as a guide when the small piece does not fit properly.
While this is a possibility, you will never be a good quilter if you do not
learn how to cut and sew precisely. It is better to learn at the
beginning, then set yourself up for a lot of aggravation down the road.
The snowball is a great filler square. When combined with other
squares, it makes some very interesting
secondary patterns. When combined with a certain 9-patch blocks, the
gently "cut off" corners make the quilt look like it has gentle curves. It also provides a wide area for those who like to do
special decorative quilting patterns.
The Snowball is also a great
pattern to use for an I Spy Quilt. I Spy Quilts are made with novelty prints, and are very busy.
Using a little solid fabric around the edges highlights the novelty print
and well as tones down the quilt.
Snowballs can be made any size. When you are planning on putting them
in a quilt, the size will depend on the other squares you will use with them.
If you are going to be using 3- patches for the rest of the blocks in you quilt,
you will want to use a Snowball size that is equal to the
size of the 3-patch.
For this lesson, use a 6-inch square. You can cut them yourself, or you
can buy them on Ebay. To find them on Ebay, type in "fabric, squares, 6".
This should bring up a large selection of fabrics to choose from. The
great thing about buying squares on Ebay is that not only do you not
have to go out and purchase the fabric, but most sellers have already
done a lot of the work for you- washing the fabric, ironing it, and then
You will also need 4 2-inch squares - four for each 6-inch square.
Draw a diagonal line on the back side of the smaller square from
corner to corner. Place the small square, right sides
together, on the corner of the large square, per the picture..
Sew on the marked line. After you have sewn your seam, you
should be able to fold back the small square, and the edges should align
PERFECTLY with the edges of the large square underneath. If they
do not, either your cutting is not accurate, you did not draw your
line perfectly, or you didn't place the two squares together perfectly.
Use your seam ripper, and do it again. You have four corners to
practice with on each square of fabric. Do it until you get it
right. Don't settle for less, and don't fool yourself. This
particular technique will be used over and over, on squares and
rectangles, making blocks like the
flying geese. If you get
it right now, no matter how long it takes, you will save yourself hours
of aggravation in the future.
Once you have correctly sewn on your corner squares, if you wish you
can trim off the underneath square, leaving a small 1/4 inch seam
allowance. Hand quilters like to do this because it makes the
block easier to quilt. If you are planning to tie the quilt, or to
machine quilt it, you can leave it on.
Press the seam allowances on all four corners toward the outside of
the square. Your block is done.
The Snowball Technique will
be used later in other blocks like the
On to Lesson
Square in a Square